Have you ever played that game, How Many Miles ‘Till Braunston? Probably not because, 1) I made it up, and 2) it’s a bit silly. Whenever we’re travelling on the Grand Union Canal and there’s a pause in the conversation I like to ask my husband,
“So, how far do you think it is to Braunston now?”
He’ll smile. This is a test. Did he notice the little black knee-high signpost that we just passed?
“Oh,” he’ll say, as if pondering an estimate.
“About fifty-eight I reckon.” He did see the sign! We both grin. We’re not going to Braunston but at one time Braunston was the hub of the English canals network, and many a working boatman needed to know how much further there was to go. This little village is at the site of the old waterways depot, where the Grand Junction Canal joins the Oxford Canal.
The village is on the hill above the canal, and prospered for over 150 years when the British canals were essential to industry. It still has the busiest flight of locks anywhere in the country. The marina hosts many small boating businesses, and “The Stop House” on the towpath is where tolls were once collected from the working boats. The current village church dates from 1849 but a church has been on this site since Norman times.
The canal-side shop near the bottom lock sells souvenirs, food and ice-cream. The canal side pubs are the Boathouse or The Admiral Nelson and in the village you will find The Old Plough, the Wheatsheaf and a Tea Room.
For more information visit the Braunston Village Website. Or why not join our canal hotel boats from Warwick to Leighton Buzzard this summer? We will travel along the northern half of the Grand Union Canal, with two of the longest canal tunnels in the country at Braunston and Blisworth, the Stoke Bruerne Canal Museum and Bletchley Park to explore.
Don’t you just love visiting those tiny canal-side villages and imagining the hustle and bustle of times gone by? What’s your local waterside village or town? Have you ever been on a hotel boat? Where have you dreamed of visiting? Leave us a comment below. We’d love to hear what you think.
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